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Biden Announces Skinny 'Bipartisan' Infrastructure Deal

It still takes 10 Republicans to climb on board the train, which will be moving on a dual track with the far larger and more progressive budget bill.
Biden Announces Skinny 'Bipartisan' Infrastructure Deal
Image from: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Joe Biden and 10 of the bipartisan gang of infrastructure negotiators reached that deal on toplines for spending and revenue on a drastically reduced package.

The $1 trillion deal includes $579 billion in new spending, tracking to the leaked two-page list of bullet points that was disavowed by senators when it leaked last week but now has reappeared as the basic agreement. In a press conference announcing the deal, Biden confirmed his commitment to a two-part process on this, the bipartisan bill and budget reconciliation that includes progressive priorities.

"Both need to get done," he said. "I am going to work closely with Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Schumer to make sure both move through the legislative process promptly and in tandem. Let me emphasize that: in tandem." He reiterated that: "I control it. If they don't come, I'm not signing it. Real simple."

Meanwhile, Pelosi's staff reinforced that point —the House will hang on to any bipartisan bill that might get passed (which is still an enormously heavy lift for the Senate) until there's a budget reconciliation bill.

That’s important, because there’s some really not good stuff in what Biden and the gang outlined. In addition to increasing IRS enforcement on tax cheats, their "pay-fors" include cutting unemployment insurance (taking funds that had been earmarked for emergency UI in COVID-19 relief packages), raising state and local taxes ("state and local investment in broadband infrastructure"), selling broadband spectrum and oil, mandatory cuts to other programs in extending the sequester, and then selling off public assets to private equity firms so they can overcharge us for profit—that's what "public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds, and asset recycling" means.

In his press conference, Biden touted the fact that there won't be any new gas taxes or fees on electric vehicles in the bill, except that any public road or bridge taken over by private investors will mean all of us lining their pockets, which is not such a great trade-off.

The outline also includes unspecified repurposed emergency funding from COVID-19 relief bills. That likely means money intended to go to state and local governments to shore up public health and to continue fighting coronavirus would be redirected. Which could be a problem if coronavirus decides to stick around for several years.

Some of the climate-related components in it include $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations; $7.5 billion for electric buses; $21 billion for environmental remediation; $73 billion to shore up the power infrastructure; and $47 billion in climate "resilience" efforts.

This is a massive trimming of Biden's original proposal—$4 trillion in hard infrastructure that upgraded roads and bridges and invested in combatting climate change, as well as an investment in the "care economy," providing funding for home health aid for seniors and the disabled. That's out of this deal, but some of it will be included in the budget reconciliation bill that will be done in tandem—as Biden says—with this bill.

None of this is guaranteed to happen. Sen. Mitch McConnell hasn't blessed this deal, and while there are 11 Republicans involved in this discussion, there is no iron-clad commitment from those 11 that they will vote for it. Republicans have laid the groundwork to say that Biden is reneging as soon as Democrats start the reconciliation process, and they're going to do that to try to peel off Democrats from that effort. Collins will be the first to say it. But for now, Biden can say he got a deal.

Published with permission of Daily Kos

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